Va. town tries to prove existence of 'ghost cats'

BLACKSTONE, Va. (AP) -- Reports of cougar sightings in the Appalachians get a skeptical hearing from wildlife officials.

But in Blackstone, Va., Sue Cobbs saw a big brown cat with a long tail chased a deer through her back yard in June. A month later, she saw one outside her neighbor's house.

Cobbs is sure they were cougars, which are also called ghost cats, catamounts, pumas, mountain lions and panthers.

Since 2003, the local newspaper -- the Courier-Record has -- run at least 15 stories on local cougar sightings.

But in over 100 years, only 64 sightings in the eastern United States -- outside of Florida -- have been confirmed, according to a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.

One was a cougar kitten was hit by a truck in Kentucky in 1997.

A network of motion activated cameras, including some in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, have captured images of many animals, but never a cougar.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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